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Have You No Shame? | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Have You No Shame?

As Republicans desperately cry out of one corner of their mouths to stop the blame game, they have been blaming everyone but themselves since this catastrophe. Let's look at their ever-evolving buck-passing strategies.

Blame the Victims: Both FEMA's Michael Brown and Homeland Security's Michael Chertoff, the Mutt and Jeff of this calamity, have blamed careless, destitute New Orleaners for not evacuating. "Those who got out are fine," Chertoff told NBC's Tim Russert. FEMA sought to excuse its delays in entering the city by blaming the looters.

Blame the Locals: In a stroke of political luck, both the New Orleans mayor and Louisiana's Governor are Democrats. As the New York Times reported, Karl Rove's PR strategy is to shift the blame to the state and city officials. All Sunday, White House officials and Fox News played this card. Expect more of this line of attack.

Blame the City: In perhaps the most bizarre excuse, Chertoff pointed the finger the city of New Orleans itself, saying, "It is a soup bowl. People have talked for years about whether it makes sense to have a city like that."

Blame the Media: Last week, Brown blamed media coverage for the perception that New Orleans had descended into lawlessness. "I actually think security is darn good.... It seems to me that every time a bad person wants to cause a problem, there's somebody with a camera to stick in their face."

Look on the Bright Side: As Americans continued to drown, Chertoff came up with this gem about the rescue efforts: "There were some things that actually worked very well. There were some things that didn't."

Ignoramus Defense: When FEMA's Brown, who was fired from his last job overseeing Arabian horse shows, said he was as "surprised as everybody else" to discover there were desperate people in the New Orleans convention center, CNN Soledad O'Brien asked, "How is it possible that we're getting better intel than you're getting?" But it was left up to our physically fit President for the whopper of the week: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

It is likely this last defense will be scrapped for obvious reasons. If only we could do the same to this Administration for painfully obvious reasons.

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